I love when people leave comments, as they lead to me (and maybe you) to think more about a subject. I know I’m not the final word on any issue, and I don’t want to be, but writing a blog without comments can sometimes feel that way. Thus, I encourage you who do read (be it often or infrequently) to leave some comments of agreement, challenge, question, or otherwise — as Karen did to my last post on consequences — (read it now if you haven’t already). And sometimes, a comment even leads to a second post with new or different thoughts on the same subject (as it did back in September about enlightenment). So today you get more about consequences :)
Karen’s ideas of “healthy maturity” and that “we could all do a better job of thinking about direct and real consequences and refusing to be controlled by more distant and less healthy motivators” made me see that I probably didn’t convey exactly what was and is in my mind about the subject. I think that what maybe irks me about consequences is that it is sometimes those “direct and real consequences” that make me act in a way that is not necessarily in harmony with my beliefs. A few examples:
Poverty is a very real problem in the US and around the world. I’d call myself a socialist in the belief that wealth should be distributed equally among all parties. If I had access to the bank accounts of millionaires, I wouldn’t necessarily think it wrong to take their money and distribute it to others who were not as well off. However, this would likely be illegal (and some might say unethical, though “ethics” are somewhat relative), and the illegality of the situation and the likely consequences of jail time and fines might end up being a larger contributor in my decision making than my beliefs. Am I selling out on my beliefs or just showing a “healthy maturity?”
Most of us realize that sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are very common (according to the Planned Parenthood website link there, “up to 75 percent of sexually active women and men will get an STI of some kind”). No condom or protection method is 100%. As a virgin (gasp! — yes, I went there), I can be confident that I don’t have an STI, but once I start having sex, that would open the door to an uncertainty I haven’t had to experience yet in life and don’t know if I want to. I do think my choices about sex relate more, though, to the need and desire to be in a committed and loving relationship when I do end up having sex. In that relationship, I would want to fully love and trust that person (I’m not necessarily saying it be within marriage, mind you — not to open up that can of worms, though), and part of that love and trust would be discussion about our sexual histories. And if she did have an STI, then what? I surely wouldn’t love her any less, but knowing the 100% aspect I mentioned above, would some fear or consequence freeze me into taking actions that I surely wouldn’t take if that consequence wasn’t there? (Even for me, as this is something I still have yet to deal with directly, this is a difficult subject for me to wrap my mind around as I write, and an area of thinking that continues to develop in my mind, so comments and questions could definitely be relevant.) — And certainly the idea of premarital sex being a “sin” might be argued as an external consequence by some and an internal consequence by others, which again is a whole ‘nother can of worms.
So I guess my issue about consequences is that sometimes they can, at least in my experience, make one go against her or his beliefs and ideals, and those, I think, are the consequences I have a problem with. And my question then becomes, “How does one reconcile one’s ideals with the possible negative consequences that might occur when one acts on said ideals?” (Perhaps a discussion about issues like civil disobedience is now in order?)